Languages evolve

I applaud the Ministry of Education (MOE) for allowing Singlish to be used in essays in schools, albeit in direct speech only ("MOE: No penalty for using Singlish appropriately"; June 13).

It is a first step in acknowledging that Singlish exists in our community.

No doubt, Standard English is important, and children are taught that in schools.

However, in their day-to-day interactions with friends, they will codeswitch to Singlish, and this is perfectly fine, as long as it does not interfere with their use of Standard English in formal settings.

The issue of international intelligibility shows that we lag behind in seeing language as a tool for communication.

A few years ago, words such as "twerk" and "sext" would not have made sense to anyone, but because the media continues to use them, they have become widely accepted as appropriate words, with definitions to follow in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Are we then to say that students will be penalised if they use such words?

The OED, or any dictionary for that matter, is an inventory of the language.

What we do not want is to nitpick and claim which words we can or should use, and which words should be banned.

Muhammad Hafiz Jamal